Unix Basics

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If you've been managing your Web files solely through FTP, the thought of learning Unix might be a little daunting. But it's actually not that bad once you get the hang of it. We'll get you started with a short introduction.

The first step is to log into the server using SSH.

Once you're logged in, type in the command "ls" (without the quotes). This gives you a listing of all your files and directories (which is the Unix word for folders). You should see a directory called public_html. This is your Web directory.

Now enter the command "cd public_html" to change into that directory. This is like double-clicking on a folder in an FTP program. Enter the (ls) command again to see what's in it.

Editing a File

Let's edit a file. Enter the command "pico filename" where filename is replaced with the name of one of your files. This will open the file in the pico text editor. You'll see command options at the bottom of the window. The "^" symbol means the "Ctrl" key. So to scroll down a page you would press the "Ctrl" and "V" keys at the same time.

Now exit the text editor by pressing "Ctrl" and "X". If you've made changes to the file it will ask if you want to save them. Hit "Y" to say yes, then hit "Enter."

Creating a Directory

Now let's create a brand new directory. Type "mkdir directoryname" where directoryname is the name of the new directory. Then, to enter the directory, type "cd directoryname."

Once you're in the new directory, you can create a new file by typing "pico newfilename" where newfilename is replaced with whatever you want to call it. You can edit and save the file the same as before.

You can return to your public_html directory by typing "cd .." This command will always take you up one level no matter where you are.

To Learn More

There are many other things that you can do with Unix. For now, you may just want to get comfortable with these commands. You can learn more about each of them by typing "man commandname" such as "man ls" or "man cd."

You can also find more help here:

UNIX Beginners Guide

Updated on April 24, 2019

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